Las Vegas Backstage Talk

Luenell, Arnez J, Ricci Martin

Oct. 30, 2014-6pm-7pm PST 1230AM in LV & The Web

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Comic superstar Luenell, Comedian Arnez J, and Singer Ricci Martin, son of Legend Dean Martin, guest on Las Vegas Backstage Talk with Comedian Michele LaFong.

Luenell will be a featured guest for Wendy Williams, and is Wendy’s stand-up comedy coach in the Lipshtick Comedy series at The Venetian Oct. 31 & Nov. 1.

With initial appearances in films So I Married An Axe Murderer, The Rock, Never Die Alone and television shows “Nash Bridges” and “The Tracy Morgan Show,” it was Luenell’s breakout performance as the ‘hooker with a heart of gold’ in the blockbuster 20th Century Fox film Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (starring Sacha Baron Cohen) that truly brought her international fame. The demand for Luenell was never greater. Combining her love of acting with stand-up, Luenell was soon segueing her standup into television/video appearances of her act, with guest appearances on “BET’s Comicview”, “Jamie Foxx’s Laffapalooza”, “Comedy After Dark “and “Martin Lawrence’s 1st Amendment Stand Up.” Katt Williams tapped Luenell to join his two-year tour and DVDs, “Katt Williams’ American Hustle.” “It was the tour of a lifetime” recalls Luenell. “We went from a tour bus and commercial flights and shows at the Improv to selling out Radio City Music Hall and flying on a G5.”

With her schedule busier than ever, this sought after performer has also appeared in such television series’ as Starz’ “Head Case,” “Chocolate News” (with David Alan Grier), “Californication,” “The Boondocks,” “The Middle,” “Breaking In” and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” as well as stand-up appearances in “Snoop Dogg’s Bad Girls of Comedy” on SHOWTIME and “Stand-up In Stilettos” on the TV Guide Network. And her presence on the big screen is continuous, with appearances in the films Spring Breakdown (with Amy Poehler, Rachel Dratch and Parker Posey), All About Steve (with Sandra Bullock and Bradley Cooper), the # 1 (for 2 weeks) comedy Think Like A Man (with Meagan Good, Kevin Hart and Taraji P. Henson) and two back-to-back films with Adam Sandler in 2012: That’s My Boy and Hotel Transylvania, as well as the sequel blockbuster with Liam Neeson, Taken 2.

Luenell continues to tour internationally with her stand-up, and between working in various television and film roles, she hosts a regular spot called “Between The Sheets With Luenell” on the Cannon’s Countdown Radio Show.

For more go to www.heyluenelle.com

Arnez J

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Arnez J guests on LVBST with Comedian Michele LaFong.

Described as a “whirling dervish” onstage, Arnez J will bring his expressive stand-up routine to the Suncoast Showroom on November 1 and 2.

Recognized for his high-energy routines, Arnez J. has emerged as one of most talked-about comics. An Atlanta native, Arnez began working the comedy circuit in Georgia and climbed the ranks as one of “Hotlanta’s” funniest newcomers.

A finalist in the “Bay Area Black Comedy Competition,” he was noticed by the entertainment industry and invited to make his first television appearance on Showtime’s “Comedy Club Network.” Soon after, Arnez J. served as a for two seasons, joining the ranks of former hosts D.L. Hughley and Cedric the Entertainer.

Additionally, Arnez J. has made appearances on “The Keenan Ivory Wayans Show,” “Louie Anderson’s Comedy Showcase,” Comedy Central’s “Make Me Laugh,” NBC’s “Friday Night Videos,” “The Mo’Nique Show”, and Russell Simmons’ “Def Comedy Jam,” along with starring in his own BET “Comic View Grandstand Hour Special” and “Comedy Central Presents: Arnez J.”

He recently headlined Showtime’s “Shaquille O’Neal Presents: All Star Comedy Jam,” and starred in his new comedy special, “Racially Motivated.”

Ricci Martin

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Singer Ricci Martin guests on LV Backstage Talk with Comedian Michele LaFong.

On Saturday Nov. 8, the children of some of the biggest names in entertainment will come together for a special history-making performance at the M Resort Spa Casino. An Evening with The Next Generation will showcase the extraordinary musical talents of Ricci Martin, son of Dean Martin, Lorna Luft, daughter of Judy Garland, Lena Prima, daughter of Louis Prima, and Steve March-Torme, son of Mel Torme, as they celebrate their legendary parents. Anthony Lewis, son of comedian legend Jerry Lewis, will host the event as the Master of Ceremonies.

“We are incredibly excited about getting everyone together for this rare performance,” says Anthony Lewis. “Through incredible music, audiences will get to experience a rare glimpse into the lives of these iconic legends as told through the eyes of their kin. It will be a musical phenomenon, unlike anything we’ve ever done before.”

For more about Ricci go to www.riccimartin.com

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Steve Byrne, Gregory Popovich-Comedy Pet Theater

Oct. 23, 2014-6pm-7pm PST 1230AM in LV & The Web

Steve Byrne

Steve Byrne, star of the new hit TBS half hour comedy sitcom Sullivan & Son, guests on Las Vegas Backstage Talk radio Show with Comedian Michele LaFong on 1230 AM KLAV  in Las Vegas and streaming live.

In the three segment interview with Host, Comedian Michele LaFong, Steve spoke about his fifteen year stand-up career, and long-time firendships with three of the cast members that he brought onto TBS’ new hit series including Actor Vince Vaughn.

Described by many as the new “Cheers,” The show is based on Steve Sullivan (played by Byrne) leaving behind his life in New York as a successful corporate attorney to take over the family bar in a working-class Pittsburgh neighborhood. The first ten episodes averaged over 2.5 million viewers and new episodes will appear on TBS in 2013.

Steve’s standup has been featured on several shows including NBC’s The Tonight Show, ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live, and TBS’s Conan. He has also appeared in the hit comedies The Dilemma, Couples Retreat, and Four Christmases. His most recent hour special, The Byrne Identity, premiered last year on Comedy Central to rave reviews.

A true international comedian, Byrne has performed to sold-out crowds around the world. He has been a featured comic at the Just For Laughs Festival (in Montreal, Toronto and Chicago), and he has been a part of several national comedy tours including Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Tour, The Kims Of Comedy, and most recently The Sullivan & Son Comedy Tour. As a big supporter of the US troops, Steve has headlined several USO tours in Afghanistan, Iraq, Japan and Guam.

Steve’s lack of ego and outstanding work ethic has helped him become one of today’s most respected comedians.

More about Steve Byrne here–>

You can catch Steve Byrne headlining at Comix at Foxwoods Comedy Club. Oct. 24 & 25

World Famous Popovich Comedy Pet Theater

Gregory Popovich guests on LVBST with Comedian Michele LaFong in-studio.

Comedy Pet Theater features an amazing cast of housecats, dogs, parrots. even geese and mice! Critics describe it as a unique blend of comedy, world-champion juggling, and the extraordinary talents of more than 30 performing pets. Gregory Popovich has rescued the animals from shelters all over the country and transformed them into Las Vegas stars! Popovich was a Finalist on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent, and is a fifth-generation circus performer who learned early on how to develop strong bonds with animals. He released his first book “You CAN Train Your Cat” in late 2009 and has been featured on The Tonight Show, David Letterman and in USA Today, just to name a few. Comedy Pet Theater performs daily at The V-Theater Planet Hollywood H&C . See below for schedule or for more information call (702) 260-7200

 

 

 

For more info about Popovitch, CLICK HERE!

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John Mulrooney, Gerry McCambridge

Oct. 16, 2014- 6-7pm PST 1230AM KLAV in LV & The Web

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Comedian John Mulrooney guests in a backstage interview on Las Vegas Backstage Talk radio show with Comedian Michele LaFong.  John is headlining The Laugh Factory at the Tropicana with Kevin Downey Jr. through Oct. 19.

Mulrooney began his career on the Comedy Tonight variety show in the ‘70s, where he wrote comedy for The Tonight Show, and also performed stand-up for the studio audience as the warm-up act for more than 165 episodes.

After Joan Rivers left as host of The Late Show on the Fox Network in 1987, Mulrooney was asked to replace her. After a few months the show was cancelled due to low ratings and competition with The Tonight Show and Johnny Carson. He hosted “Comic Strip: Live,” first for a year as a local show on KTTV in Los Angeles in 1988, continuing when Fox TV programming executives expanded the show to Fox network on Saturday nights for an additional year. He appeared many TV shows, including, “An Evening at the Improv” and “Hollywood Squares.” He often filled in as guest host for Pat Sajak on The Pat Sajak Show. Mulrooney wrote and starred for two seasons in a sitcom called “Midtown North,” which aired on Comedy Central. In 2007. He toured Israel on the Crossroads Comedy Tour, a series of benefit concerts for the Crossroads Center in Jerusalem. He can be heard daily on iHeartRADIO at, “Mulrooney in the Morning,” which he will be taping live from Las Vegas this week.

Gerry McCambridge

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Gerry McCambridge aka The Mentalist guests on LVBST with Comedian Michele LaFong.

Starting in October 2007 he appeared on Phenomenon with Criss Angel and Uri Geller.

On June 25, 2008, Gerry McCambridge celebrated his 500th Las Vegas performance having been in that city for three years. McCambridge is the longest running mentalist show in Las Vegas history.

On May 12, 2004 Gerry had his first prime-time network TV special titled “The Mentalist.” Over 6.2 million viewers tuned in to watch the one hour special.

In 1999, the International Magicians Society presented Gerry with the “Merlin Award” for “Mentalist of the Decade”. Gerry was the first mentalist in history to receive the Merlin award for mentalism since the organizations inception in 1968.

In 2002 Gerry wrote his first TV script titled “The Mentalist” and took it out to Los Angeles to pitch it to the networks. Jeff Zucker, the president of NBC witnessed Gerry’s live performances many times, and instantly bought the show for his network. Gerry became the creator, executive producer and star of the hit prime-time network television show “The Mentalist” which started airing to millions around the world in May 2004.

In 2005 the Psychic Entertainers Association again awarded Gerry. This time he received the “Mentalist of the Year” award.

In June 2005 Gerry moved his one man show “The Mentalist” from New York City to Las Vegas. The show was an instant success in Sin City. The Las Vegas Review Journal readers poll nominated him “Best Magician” in all Las Vegas.

In October 2007 Gerry starred in the reality television series “Phenomenon” with Criss Angel and Uri Geller.

In 2008 CBS thought the concept of merging the skills of a mentalist with a detective was so interesting, they contacted Gerry and asked him to help with a weekly TV series based on that concept.

In August 2008, the International Magicians Society presented Gerry with the “Merlin Award” for “Mentalist of the Year.”

In 2009 he was voted one of the “Top 10 Absolutely Have To See” shows in Las Vegas by the Las Vegas Weekly Magazine.

In 2010 the Las Vegas Review Journal readers poll placed Gerry’s show as the “Best Bargain Show in all of Las Vegas.”

Gerry is performing at the V Theatre, Planet Hollywood H&C , nightly 7:30pm-dark Wed.

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Bill Maher returns, Comedian Felicia Michaels

Oct. 9, 2014- 6-7pm PST 1230AM KLAV in LV & The Web

Bill Maher returns once again to Las Vegas Backstage Talk radio show with Comedian Michele LaFong.

For the last 18 years, Maher has pushed the boundaries of how far political humor and satire can go on American television. First on “Politically Incorrect” (which first aired on Comedy Central before moving to ABC), and for the last seven years on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher,” Maher’s combination of unflinching honesty and scathing humor have garnered him 21 EmmyR nominations. In October 2008, this same combination was on display in Maher’s swipe at organized religion, “Religulous,” which went on to become the seventh-highest grossing documentary ever.

In addition to his television program-which has featured such regular visitors as Ben Affleck, Robin Williams, Arianna Huffington, Alec Baldwin and Michael Moore-Maher has written four bestsellers: “True Story,” “Does Anybody Have a Problem with That? Politically Incorrect’s Greatest Hits,” “When You Ride Alone, You Ride with Bin Laden” and most recently, “New Rules: Polite Musings from a Timid Observer.”

For more about Bill Maher click here. For more about “Real Time with Bill Maher” click here.

Bill Maher is appearing at The Pearl at The Palms H&C Oct. 10 & 11

Comedian Felicia Michaels

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Felicia Michaels guests in a backstage interview at The Laugh Factory at The Tropicana 8:30pm & 10:30pm through Oct. 12.

An “Army Brat,” who was used to moving about, Felicia Michaels built her early career by refusing to allow her gender to tame her material, and never once flinching when it came to the rigorous travel and TV schedule that a stand-up comedy career demands. She has appeared on networks such as MTV, A&E, Comedy Central, VH1 and Showtime. Michaels was nominated twice as Funniest Female by the American Comedy Awards, before winning it, and also received a Best Comedy Podcast nomination from the Podcast Awards in 2012, for the hit underground podcast “Beauty and Da Beast,” with fellow comic Joey “Coco” Diaz. She explores such topics as the dynamics of the male/female relationship, “dirty thoughts,” and the proliferation of the sensual feminist. She has appeared in three movies: “Smart Alex,” “Los Enchiladas and most recently “I Am Comic.”. She once posed nude for Playboy Magazine.

 

 

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Jim Belushi, Wild Willy Parsons, J.Chris Newberg

Oct. 2, 2014- 6-7pm PST 1230AM KLAV in LV & The Web

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Comedian, actor and blues musician Jim Belushi guests on Las Vegas Backstage Talk with Comedian Michele LaFong.

Jim Belushi along with blues band The Sacred Hearts will bring laughs and soulful hits to the Orleans Showroom October 4 & 5.

Jim Belushi is known worldwide for making people laugh as a regular on “Saturday Night Live,” his long-running comedy series “According to Jim” and his many film appearances. In addition to his film and TV career, Belushi’s music career blossomed in 1995 when he joined forces with House of Blues regulars, The Sacred Hearts. Soon after, friend Dan Aykroyd asked Belushi to join him as part of the Blues Brothers. To get ready to play with the Blues Brothers, Belushi would crash rehearsals for The Sacred Hearts. He had so much fun performing with them, they eventually merged professionally and have been performing as Jim Belushi and The Sacred Hearts.

The band’s first CD, “36 x 22 x 36,” was released in 1998 and delivers a Memphis rhythm & blues sound seasoned with a lot of soul. Additionally, the “According to Jim Soundtrack” was released in 2005, containing the music by Jim Belushi & The Sacred Hearts featured in fan favorite series episodes. Much of the show’s music was written and recorded by Belushi and bandmates Johnny Rubano and Tony Braunagel, who also made regular guest appearances on “According to Jim.”

Wild Willy Parsons, J. Chris Newberg

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Emmy Winning Comedian Wild Willy Parsons, and J. Chris Newberg guest in a backstage interview on LVBST.

The New Tropicana should be filled with laughter beginning Monday, Sept. 29 through Sunday, when Wild Willy Parsons takes the stage at the Laugh Factory. Parsons will be sharing the comedy clubs stage with Chris Newberg, and host Brett Riley. At first glance, Willy Parsons’ biker-clad girth could send society’s most decadent citizens scampering for their lives. But instead, The sends them home with a fresh and positive outlook, about their own misconceptions of the stereotypical biker.
Parsons, born Sept. 18, 1959 in San Diego, Calif., attended Mar Vista high school in Imperial Beach, Calif., with actor Matthew Modine, and Ozzy/Badlands ex-guitarist, Jake E. Lee. Willy lives in North Hollywood, Calif., and is best friends with his lifelong idol, Mahogany Rush guitarist, Frank Marino.
Parsons has made numerous TV appearances including “Last Comic Standing,” “Last Call with Carson Daly,” “The Dennis Miller Show,” Showtime, MTV, “The Tracey Ullman Show,” “Evening at the Improv,” Caroline’s Comedy Hour, and “Comics Only,” to name a few. He has opened for such acts as Sam Kinison, Andrew Dice Clay, Richard Jeni, Pauly Shore, Steppenwolf, The Charlie Daniels Band, and Buddy Miles. A stand-up comedian and an actor, Willie has been in several movies including “The Guardian,” directed by William Friedkin, and “Nothing to Lose,” directed by Steve Oedekerk. Willy’s Emmy Award came in 1985, for his writing on “Technical Difficulties.” Wild Willy released his live CD, “American Made,” recorded at The Comedy Store, in 2001.
J. Chris Newberg’s refreshingly smart and edgy humor, delivered with a streetwise sense of philosophic cool, has propelled the guitarist/songwriter-turned-comedian to the forefront of the national comedy scene. Newberg’s standup cleverly combines his hilarious and off-beat observations on life with original acoustic guitar songs and infectious melodies. He has been seen on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” “Last Comic Standing” and Comedy Central. Brett Riley is one of the most original fresh faces coming to light in the comedy world. With the swagger of a rock front man and the likability of a college drinking buddy, this walking “series of unfortunate events,” takes the audience on a personal tour of the Riley view. He covers everything from pop culture to relationships, family, advice on how to mess with people, and the ability to sing well enough, to make your mom forget the other stuff that comes out of his mouth.

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Oct. LV Backstage Talk Column

by Michele LaFong

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Las Vegas Backstage Talk’s syndicated monthly column in Casino Player Magazine, and Gaming Today-Oct.

Finalist on Last Comic Standing Lachlan Patterson on Las Vegas Backstage Talk with Comedian Michele LaFong (10 min. edited)

Oct. LVBST column
When Randy Bachman, founding member of The Guess Who, the Canadian band responsible for such hits as “No Time” and “American Woman” left to explore his personal musical horizons, he joined forces with Fred Turner to create Bachman-Turner Overdrive and rock & roll history was made. I, along with millions of other fans worldwide, grew up and sang along to radio hits such as “Taking Care Of Business,” “Let It Ride,” and “Roll On Down The Line.” So when I heard that after 20 years of fan demand these two giants of hard driving tunes were reuniting, touring, and appearing at The Cannery August 30, billed as Bachman & Turner, I knew I had to get an interview, which I finally landed with Fred Turner. You can imagine my shock when backstage, before their concert Fred casually dropped the bombshell scoop to yours truly that this was his very last show with Bachman. “I am retiring and have lots of other unfinished business to take care of…I’m just taking care of unfinished business, you might say…loose ends to tie up. I’ve got a bucket list with lots of things I need to do.” When asked how Randy Bachman took the news, he responded “Randy’s got so many things going on all the time with so many artists, and new projects, he’s just fine! …Maybe I’ll be back in a few years…you never know.” While watching the concert I was kind of sad but felt blessed to be witnessing the last historic show of Bachman & Turner. They never announced the news to the crowd and I haven’t heard a peep about it since.
Another thing that has come to an abrupt end is the celebrity impersonating “dealertainers” that the Imperial Palace, now The Quad soon to be the Linq was so famous for. It seems this was not a popular decision with many of their loyal customers. Also, the Clarion Resort on Convention Center Drive formally Royal Americana, Debbie Reynolds Hotel & Casino, Paddlewheel, and Greek Isles has closed for good. It’s been an interesting quaint little property that opened as the Royal Inn in 1970. Debbie Reynolds gave me my first running show there, “Vegas Live” starring Michele LaFong.
It is with a heavy heart that I am addressing the untimely passing of Comedy Icon Joan Rivers who at age 81 seemed ageless, and invincible. I was asked to join WTTG-TV (FOX 5) Washington via Skype to share some of my personal interactions with Joan when guesting on her afternoon talk show back in the 80’s and speak on the impact that she had on comedy in general. Like so many other stories being shared by industry over the weeks about Joan’s generosity, graciousness, and wonderful sense of humor, I experienced much of the same. Joan’s approach to comedy was fearless and unapologetic- breaking ground and paving the way for other female comics. Ironically she hated being referred to as a pioneer or a trail blazer because her work was not even close to being done. In fact, in a recent interview before her passing she was quoted as saying “I hate when female comics come up to me and say “Oh you broke barriers for women… I’m still breaking barriers….” Sadly her work was unfinished but her legend lives on and she is sorely missed.
Another feminine comedy ground-breaker of sorts is New Jersey native “Queen of Comedy” Sommore, who began her career as the first woman to host BET’s ”Comic View,” and then later hosting Russell Simmons’ “Def Comedy Jam” and “Showtime at the Apollo.” She was the 1995 recipient of the Richard Pryor Award for Comic of the Year, and in 2000 she entered “The Guinness Book of World Records,” performing for an audience of more than 50,000 people in Atlanta as part of the “Queens of Comedy” tour. A recording of the show became the longest-running and highest-rated special in the history of Showtime Networks.
I recently interviewed Sommore, who was promoting her upcoming weekend at Suncoast Hotel & Casino on Labor Day Weekend. With credits which include her status as being among the top-grossing stand-up comediennes in the United States and abroad, as well as Oprah Winfrey proclaiming her “a force to be reckoned with in the new millennium,” it’s of no wonder that Sommore sold out both nights at the 500 seat theatre before the weekend even began with Suncoast having to turn away hundreds of fans. Her show equally as impressive had substance and she drew a drinking, spending well-dressed crowd. I think it was obvious just from her credits that Queen of Comedy Sommore deserved to be performing in a much bigger theatre on The Strip. I’m sure Las Vegas won’t make that mistake again as word gets out fast!
Another impressive comedienne making a difference in comedy is Wanda Sykes. Wanda is Executive Producer of NBC’s Last Comic Standing which got renewed for a second season. I recently interviewed runner-up Lachlan Patterson, and Winner Rod Man who were promoting their upcoming Last Comic Standing Tour with all 5 finalists in the show. The audio of their interviews are archived on our site. I will be doing a backstage videotaped interview with both Lachlan, and Rod Man in between their sold out shows at Aliante Casino. An edited portion will be posted on gamingtoday.com, casinocenter.com.
Bill Maher returns to the Palms on Oct. 10 & 11. He always puts on a solid, funny, relevant show, and is one of my favorite return guests on LVBST. Bill’s interview will air on Oct. 9.
My Picks:
Wanda Sykes, Treasure Island, Oct 3, The Beach Boys, The Cannery, Oct. 4, Lewis Black, The Mirage, Oct. 4, Daniel Tosh, Mirage, Oct. 10 & 11, Legends of Motown: the Four Tops, Temptations, Spinners, Cannery, Oct. 10 & 11, Loni Love, Venetian, Oct. 10 & 11,
The Eagles, MGM Grand, Oct. 11, Queensryche, Eastside Cannery, Oct. 11, Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull, Mandalay Bay, Asia, Red Rock Resort, Oct. 17, John Fogerty, Palms, Oct. 17, Ray Romano and David Spade, Mirage, Oct. 17 & 18, Zac Brown Band, MGM Grand, Oct. 17, Carlos Mencia, Treasure Island, Oct. 17, Smokey Robinson, Eastside Cannery, Oct. 18, Ron White, Mirage, Oct. 24 & 25, Bill Engvall, Treasure Island, Oct. 24, Wendy Williams, Venetian, Oct. 31.

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